Liquindella Clark , an 8th grade math teacher at Dundee Ridge Middle School leads the class in an anti bullying rap in her classroom in Dundee , Fl. , Wednesday August 25, 2010.

By Merissa Green

DUNDEE | Liquindella Clark stayed up late Tuesday night, thinking of ways to make an impression on her eighth-grade math class.

Her focus was not about numbers – it is about bullying.

So Wednesday, Clark arrived at Dundee Ridge Middle School wearing a ripped t-shirt, a sign on her back that read “bullying hurts” and big bandages on her face.

She got her students’ attention.

“Sometimes when you hand paper to kids, they don’t get it,” Clark said. “But if you can show them a real world example of how it looks, it will impact them more.”

Clark joined other teachers Wednesday for the school district’s first simultaneous one-day attack on bullying, said Nancy Woolcock, assistant superintendent of learning support.

“As a part of the Jeffrey Johnston law, students are required to report and receive prevention instruction,” Woolcock said. “So we decided to do one day at the beginning of the year to inform students about anti-bullying.”

In 2005, Jeffrey Johnston, of Cape Coral, committed suicide at age 15 after being harassed, sometimes via the Internet, for about two years. His death prompted his mother to launch a campaign for the statewide anti-bullying law.

Students at Dundee Ridge Middle learned how to use a hot spot map to make the school safer from bullying, the types of behaviors that characterize targets for bullying, how bystanders can respond and what can be done to decrease bullying schoolwide. Students also received an anti-bullying pledge to sign.

Sixth-graders in one of the reading classes designed posters showing physical and social bullying.
Luis Benabe, 13, said he now knows how to walk away from a bully and to tell an administrator. He also said Clark’s approach to the subject made the discussion fun.

As a requirement from the state’s Department of Education, the school district began tracking bullying statistics last year, Woolcock said. The figures won’t be available until the end of September when they have to be submitted to DOE.

Sherrie Nickell, associate superintendent of learning and incoming district superintendent, said the daylong sessions will show students the district is serious about eliminating bully behavior.

Dundee Ridge Principal Stacy Gideons said her staff talks to students about how they should conduct themselves and because of it, bullying isn’t a major problem at her school.